various artists,
Songs & Ballads of
the Bituminous Miners

(Rounder, 2002)

As with many Rounder Select editions from the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture, Songs & Ballads of the Bituminous Miners is an encyclopedic look at the culture that spawned this music. This is a companion recording to Rounder's Songs & Ballads of the Anthracite Miners.

This album of mining songs came about through the work of folklorist George Korson, an Alan Lomax of the minefields. Korson cast his net wide and retrieved this material from hardworking citizens of Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The reasons for this are partly geological. This is because the bituminous (soft) coal lies in more widely scattered regions than the centralized anthracite coal. So, more regional influence is picked up as some tracks have a gospel-blues feel while others have a guitar-based old-timey feel. The 25-page booklet exhaustively details each track and the culture that spawned these songs.

[ by Tom Schulte ]
Rambles: 9 November 2002

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